Running Rapids on the Kettle River


The team assembled in the morning sun,
Each rigged with helmet and with safety vests.
So mindful of the Bridge’s water gage,
The leader read, “Three feet and holding fast”.
We cheered! Then dragged canoes to water’s edge.

The sign read, “Caution – Rapids lurk ahead!”
A bad one, stretching for the next six miles.
We smiled! And slid our silver vessel in,
Among the swirling spume we tightly grouped
Together in the fellowship of men.

Held firm against the current’s surging flow,
Our locking paddles formed a bucking barge
As river swirled and danced around us all.
The leader turned his Kayak into the stream
And hollered o’er his shoulder “Team, Lets GO”

Released, we swept into Blueberry Slide
Where first the famous rapids held its rocks.
My brother in the front end drove us right,
While I, in the bending back end, steered right.
“Don’t lean up-stream!” Too Late! We filled up.

We sat there in midstream all water swamped.
The canoe was filled to the very top!
So we paddled with water up to our waist,
Each move we made, a sloshing tidal wave,
As slowly struggled over to the shore.

The ladies from the landing laughed aloud,
Rolling on the ground! High Hillarity!
We sorry sailors dumped the soggy craft,
And righted it again to catch the flow,
We cavalierly waved, and off we went!

On to Dragon’s Tooth the cold current lead.
So swiftly dragging us around the bend,
We missed the jagged stone just narrowly.
A tightly wrapped canoe clung out there now,
From much less lucky member of our group.

Canoes bend like pretzels when wrapped around
A rock with pressure from the swirling stream.
We had to get it off of there that day.
So lengthy log was shoved out to the rock,
While Kruger shinnied out there with a rope.

They pulled the rope hard from the nearest shore,
But paddler finished now, done for the day.
He scaled the cliff for path into the woods,
As it would lead him back to parking lot
Where anxious family wait so patiently

The rest proceed on with the journey down
To quiet beach before reaching Hell’s Gate
Where we dismounted scouting rapid’s path
It’s known to have dragged others to their deaths
The current pulls through overhanging shelves

Our leader points out only proper route
That safely carries past the raging boil.
He made us visualize the moves to make,
To see Its narrow turns and sucking might,
To practice when we’re swept on through Hell’s Gate.

My brother and I talked about our plan
To dig, and where we both should switch our sides.
Then clambered in and strapped our helmets on.
We pushed off from that peaceful, quiet shore
And flew on wild white water to our fate.

We headed straight into that raging roar
As we approached that tight towering wall
That choked the river at its narrow bend
We knew we’d have to give it all our strength
Or Die there under sinister Hell’s Gate

Well, that didn’t happen! I’m glad to say!
Survived it! Here to tell you all today!

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Synergy of Poetry and Verse. Author, Poet, Photographer

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